Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Illinois manufacturers’ group says state’s economic growth held back by state policies – Center Square

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Report says federal tax reform could pressure local governments to hold the line on taxes – Center Square

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The Wisconsin Retirement System Is Fully Funded and a Model for Other States – Reason

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New bill would allow Illinois library districts to tax local cannabis sales – Center Square

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Judges Order Government Spending Without Representation in Illinois – Heartland Institute

"Our research revealed Illinois legislators have acquiesced to a power grab by the federal and state judiciary."

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Gov. Pritzker’s Lawyers Trying To Shield Him From Deposition In Racial Discrimination Lawsuit – NPR IL

Doris Turner, J.B. Pritzker, and Juliana Stratton

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New ‘Rape In Champaign’ Disclosure: State Braced For Senator’s ‘Extremely Negative Reaction’ – WBEZ

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From boom to uncertainty, a volatile decade for Illinois farmers – Center Square

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Ahead of March primary, Republicans demand hearing over non-citizen voter registration errors – Center Square

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Can this Don Harmon tame Springfield’s culture of corruption? – Crain’s

After more than a decade, the Illinois Senate finally has a new leader. But newly installed Senate President Don Harmon will have to wrestle with the same cast of snapping demons as predecessor John Cullerton.

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Rich Miller: Reflecting (and Deflecting) with Governor JB Pritzker, One Year In

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Republican State Officials: Democrats Will Come After Middle Class With ‘Fair’ Income Tax – NPR IL State

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Tens of Thousands of People Lost Driver’s Licenses Over Unpaid Parking Tickets. Now, They’re Getting Them Back. – WBEZ

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Building a Better Chicago: What is affordable housing? – ABC Chicago

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Illinois Senators Elect New President: Oak Park’s Don Harmon – WTTW

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Don Harmon selected as Illinois Senate president – Chicago Sun-Times

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Illinois Senate president race: Accusations of personal betrayal and payback fly furiously – Chicago Sun-TImes

Publicly, party leaders made a show of unity. Lightford, who is Senate majority leader, hugged Harmon on the Senate floor Sunday afternoon as she nominated him to become the next Senate president. Harmon, who is white, was elected unanimously after hours of negotiations. But afterward, accusations flew of personal betrayal, and long-time simmering feuds bubbled over.

Lightford, D-Maywood, blamed former Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., and his son, Emil Jones III, who is currently in the Senate, for her loss. She would have been the first female black Senate president. She thinks their opposition may stem from an 11-year old grudge.

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Jim Dey | What good are new taxes if there’s no one here to pay them? – News Gazette

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Don Harmon elected Illinois Senate President, succeeding John Cullerton – Center Square

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Skillicorn: Illinois should repeal their part in the National Popular Vote movement – IL Review

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Editorial: Repeating: Democrats, it’s time for Madigan to go. – Chicago Tribune

Comment: A particularly good summary of what should be obvious.

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Stampede to the pot parade – Washington Times

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For Shrinking Cities, an Aggressive Way to Dodge the Census Bullet – MSN

Over the last year, the City Council pushed Decatur’s boundaries outward, annexing hundreds of properties despite vehement objections from new residents whose spacious houses and half-acre lots contrast sharply with the smaller, aging homes in neighborhoods closer to downtown.

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Letter: Illinois’ problem isn’t the form of taxation, it’s the level – Crain’s

Illinois' problem isn't the form of taxation, it's the level. Illinois government is simply spending at a rate its dwindling number of taxpaying residents cannot afford.

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Remap reform advocates trying a new tack – Crain’s

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Illinois population shrinkage and dirty laundry – Eric Allie Cartoon

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State worker who allegedly kept ‘mouth shut’ about ‘rape in Champaign’ and ghost payrolling to receive $2.7M in pension payments – IL Policy

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Sen. Bill Brady On Property Tax Relief And Making The Case Against A Graduated Income Tax – WCBU

On the graduated income tax proposal, Brady says: “Pritzker has sold it in a way that some people might believe—and he might even believe. But the truth of the matter is, if you look at the history of politicians, particularly Democrats, you’ll find they are more than willing to reach into the taxpayers’ pocket and take more money,” Brady said. “And there were other circumstances surrounding his election victory. Gov. Pritzker spent a record $180 million on his campaign. Gov. Rauner spent less than $50 million. It was a very lopsided appeal. “I believe the voters will reject—when they’re informed about the risks of this alteration—I believe voters will reject it. The question is, can we overcome the Pritzker money when it comes to messaging the truth about this alteration?” Brady said.

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As far back as 2008, an IL Republican launched anti-Electoral College movement – IL Review

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New ‘Rape In Champaign’ Disclosure: State Braced For Senator’s ‘Extremely Negative Reaction’ – WBEZ

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Illinois farmers helped by latest U.S. trade deals, but many questions remain – Capitol News IL

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Illinois officials correct error that added more than 500 possible non-citizens to voter rolls – Center Square

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Prtitzker’s First Year Anniversary Booklet: ‘Together, We Are Headed in the Right Direction’

Presented without comment.

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Tax flight: Myth versus reality – 1IL

Comment: To all of us who think Illinois taxes cause population loss, this article says "back that argument up before it carries you off to fantasyland — or to Indiana, whichever is worse." They should have added, for all you Wirepoints commenters who've told us you've moved or plan to because of taxes -- you're all liars. CC: Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

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After A Year Of Hemp Growing, Illinois Farmers Are Frustrated – IL Public Media

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Budget Solutions 2020: A 5-year plan to balance Illinois’ budget, pay off debt and cut taxes – IL Policy

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Could Wisconsin And Illinois Be Headed For Different Time Zones? – WI Public Radio

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Madigan’s $10 million windfall: How the 13th Ward made out big – Crain’s

Madigan’s home ward, the 13th on the Southwest Side, is receiving a special $10 million appropriation for street resurfacing, new streetlights and other improvements—a gift far larger than most and maybe all of the city’s other 49 wards are receiving. The money was tucked into Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s huge new $45 billion capital program, the one that passed the Legislature last year with Madigan’s help. And though neither state officials nor especially Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration seem thrilled about it, both are going along with the move.

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Illinois lawmakers propose taxpayers pay for first two years of college for state residents – Center Square

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Is Gov. Pritzker Clueless Or Reckless On Pensions? – Forbes

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University of Illinois administrators seek a tuition hike – Pantagraph

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Central Illinois county sees 4th highest population loss in state – WCIA

Based on Wirepoints' compilation of Census data.

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Pritzker doubtful ‘Clean Energy Jobs Act’ will pass in fall session – Capitol News IL

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More bills surface to stop Illinois’ ‘revolving door’ from lawmaker to lobbyist – Center Square

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Sullivan ‘shocked’ he had email, ‘disappointed’ in governor’s statement – Capitol News IL

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Quentin Fulks: Outmigration and Illinois’ unfair tax system – Daily Herald

Quentin Fulks Quentin Fulks is the Chairman of Vote Yes For Fairness, a ballot initiative committee working to pass the Fair Tax in Illinois. Presented here, without comment, is his case that "drastic" out-migration is due to the unfairness in our tax system, which would be fixed by a progressive income tax, and that "it's clear that taxes are not the reason people are leaving Illinois."

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Are people moving due to taxes? – Stump

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Was The Illinois Constitution’s Pensions Clause Meant To Be A Suicide Pact? Three Important Pieces Of Historical Context – Forbes

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Chicago heads into a hungry market with an upsized deal – The Bond Buyer

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A quarter of every tax dollar from recreational cannabis sales in Illinois will go to nonprofit groups – Center Square

A quarter of every tax dollar generated from recreational cannabis will go to the newly created Restore, Reinvest and Renew program. When she was a state senator, Toi Hutchinson explained what that’ll be spent on. “That money is specifically going to small community agencies in the areas that have been impacted the most, that do the work on the ground,” Hutchinson said in 2019.

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John Kass: Mike Madigan squashes legislative probe of that email about a rape. If he were a Republican, he’d be gone – Chicago Tribune

If Madigan were a Republican, his opponents may have likely invoked House Rule 91, to form a legislative commission to examine charges of obstruction of the legislature.
Why? Because Madigan just squashed a legislative investigation of Michael McClain, his closest confidant and a retired lobbyist who’s under a federal criminal investigation. That legislative inquiry would have examined McClain’s email defending a politically connected worker who “kept his mouth shut” about “that rape in Champaign.”

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What will it take for pols to get serious about our property tax pain? – Crain’s

Comment: This article makes pretty much the same criticisms as ours on the draft recommendations by the Property Tax Relief Task Force. From this article: "The draft report of the property tax relief task force offers little hope that elected officials will do what’s necessary to reverse these trends."

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Report shows failures in DCFS investigation before 2018 fire that killed two children – Herald-Whig

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Pritzker reflects on first year in office, looks ahead to 2020 – Capitol News IL

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Audit finds growing unfunded liabilities for Illinois’ teacher pension system – Center Square

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Bipartisan effort underway to end Illinois taxpayers covering ‘exit bonus’ for lawmakers who resign early – Center Square

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Quincy Media, Inc. launches Illinois Capitol Bureau – NBC25

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An Exit Interview with Senate President John Cullerton – WTTW

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A GOP-led edge: Red states see less unemployment, more economic growth – The Hill

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Pritzker’s Agriculture Secretary Resigns In Fallout From ‘Rape In Champaign’ Email – WBEZ

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Dealers say high cost of Illinois’ electric car registration fees hampering sales – WTVO

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Pension funding brings Cook County a downgrade – The Bond Buyer

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U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Puerto Rico bonds dispute – Reuters

The high court’s action leaves a dark cloud over special revenue bonds, which could increase borrowing costs for local governments seeking to finance infrastructure projects.

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Illinois puts the word out to underwriters – The Bond Buyer

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Restoration of Illinois’ 109-year-old Black Hawk statue is finally finished – Associated Press

Image result for blackhawk statue oregon il

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How Madigan’s top lobbyist won people over: Clout and a generous expense account – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois Becomes 20th State to Force Taxpayers to Foot the Bill for Transgender Surgery – PJ Media

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Editorial: Madigan’s latest scandal, Springfield’s latest outrage – Daily Herald

"We agree with Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business that it's time for Madigan to go....As for Pritzker, how much confidence are we supposed to have in his call for an investigation when the presumed anti-whisteblower did work for him and in essence still does? The governor is "appalled and disgusted?" Really? It has as much credence as Pritzker's feigned support for redistricting reform. Pritzker talked a good game about that when he was running, but when was the last time anyone saw him actually do anything to make it happen?"

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Editorial – Property-tax flop is no surprise – News-Gazette

While much was made in advance about its potential significance, creation of the 88-member legislative committee on property-tax reform was never anything more than a political sop that Gov. J.B. Pritzker used to persuade reluctant Democrats to put his proposed constitutional amendment replacing the state’s current flat tax mandate with a progressive income tax on the November 2020 ballot.

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Illinois money woes and the ‘church lady’ – The Courier

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Investigators exploring whether ‘rape in Champaign’ email is linked to early release of prison inmate, sources say – Chicago Tribune

State investigators are looking into whether an explosive email that refers to keeping quiet about a “rape in Champaign” could be tied to an inmate who got out of prison early and then sexually abused a young girl, sources familiar with the probe told the Tribune. “I can confirm it is one possible scenario that is being looked at,“ the source said.

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Rich Miller: Madigan’s empire could crumble – Herald & Review

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Madigan celebrates 35th anniversary as Illinois House speaker – IL Policy

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Down on the farm – IL Times

Farm income is down, prices continue low. Stress grows.

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How Massive Donations From Howard G. Buffett Helped Block the Opening of a Pot Dispensary in Illinois – The Intercept

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Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force Delivers Report to Gov. Pritzker

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Red light camera company fires back at Mendoza’s ticket collection halt – ABC Chicago

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Illinois taxing itself into irrelevancy – Kankakee Daily Journal

While our neighbors have exercised some fiscal restraint, our elected officials continue to spend like drunken sailors.

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The blue-state exodus gains momentum – The Hill

The blue-state exodus gains momentum

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House Republicans grow increasingly frustrated with farce of a property tax task force – Will County Gazette

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McClain email makes it clear: Mike Madigan’s time is up – Greg Hinz – Crain’s

After two years of revelations, it's obvious Madigan's closest associates felt that no one could hold them to account, however foul the deed. It's time for the Illinois House speaker to go, Greg Hinz writes.

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Pritzker puts criminal justice reforms atop 2020 agenda – Capitol News IL

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Seeking to give residents a break on property tax, legislative task force recommends expanding sales tax. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who’s pushing a graduated income tax, says there’s got to be another way. – Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, focused on winning over voters on a new graduated-rate income tax, is dismissing a proposal floated by a property tax relief task force that would expand the Illinois sales tax base to help fund public schools.

“That’s not something that I am supportive of; I think there are other ways for us to go about it,”

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Clean Energy Jobs Act will inflict billions in increased costs on ratepayers – IL Chamber of Commerce

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Property tax relief task force – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Illinois DCFS Inspector General Report Says 56 Children With Agency History Have Died In Last 6 Months – CBS Chicago

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Investors Give Nod to Worst-Rated Illinois With Revenue Growing – Bloomberg

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Peoria’s Public Safety Pension Fee — What is it? – NBC Peoria

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Area Congressmen latest seeking investigation of 2012 ‘rape’ email – Capitol News IL

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Illinois economy grew slowly in 3rd quarter 2019 – Capitol News IL

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Expecting volatile economy, most public retirement funds dial back return expectations, increasing pressure for taxpayers – Center Square

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In Indiana, how to spend the state’s surplus becoming big debate – Fox 59

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Illinois corn, soybean production drops by roughly 20 percent – Capitol News IL

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Use This Tool to Find Potential Conflicts of Interest At Public Universities. – ProPublica

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Pritzker, Stratton lay out proposals for comprehensive justice reform – 1IL

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Illinois cannabis taxes among nation’s highest, could keep black market thriving – IL Policy

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Illinois personal income growth 2nd lowest in U.S. since Great Recession – IL Policy

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Pritzker denies talking to Madigan about 2012 rape email – Center Square

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Madigan Rejects Request for House Investigation Into Email Alleging Rape Cover-Up, Pritzker Deflects – NBC Chicago

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Goodbye, New York, California and Illinois. Hello … Where? – Bloomberg

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Leading Illinois House Republican asks for committee with subpoena power to investigate rape ‘cover up’ email – Center Square

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Bill filed in Illinois to bar private pay for public employees after Gov. J.B. Pritzker shells out $3 million for staffers – Center Square

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Moving companies again list Illinois high on ‘outbound’ movers lists in 2019 – Center Square

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Michael Madigan’s Friend Dodges Questions About ‘Rape’ Comment In An Email – WBEZ

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Illinois House GOP says property tax cut ideas were ignored – A.P.

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Doctors sees spike in ER visits since legalization of recreational marijuana – WGN

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State officials remind workers to check paychecks for compliance with new state minimum wage law – Center Square

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Illinois Lawmakers Spar over Property Tax Relief – WTTW

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Republicans blast property tax task force report – Capitol News IL

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Social Equity Provisions In Illinois Cannabis Law – JD Supra

There is some concern that these measures may not work in the way intended. The process is expensive – requiring a nonrefundable $5,000 application fee with winners paying $60,000 for the new dispensary licenses. The complicated 400-page application may limit who can realistically apply or necessitate hiring a consultant to navigate through it. The social equity points given for hiring impacted minorities may also work against local entrepreneurs and favor big cannabis companies.

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Illinois sets record in first week of recreational cannabis sales despite some confusion – Center Square

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Study Says Foxconn Deal Cost Wisconsin $20 Billion in Lost Economic Growth – Reason

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Illinois Attorney General, Commerce Commission still at odds over electric utility tax cut paybacks – Center Square

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Editorial: Another Illinois scandal: Did a ‘loyal’ Democrat conceal rape to protect his political allies? – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois Population Loss May Have Greater Impact on Downstate Representation – WGLT

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What The Illinois Supreme Court Said About Pensions – And Why It Matters – Forbes

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Amid Outrage, Madigan Claims ‘No Knowledge’ Of Rape In Confidant’s Email – WBEZ

Michael Madigan

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Lawmakers Call for Investigation Into Report of Madigan Associate’s Email Alleging Rape Cover-Up – NBC Chicago

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Even with a court order, families struggle to find services for developmentally disabled adults: ‘We have great programs, you just can’t get into them.’ – Chicago Tribune

Nearly 20,000 people with disabilities in Illinois are on a waiting list to receive state aid after they age out of the state’s public education system, the Tribune reported last month. Most wait years before they are selected.

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An Email From A Powerful Former State Lobbyist Hints At A Rape Cover-Up – WBEZ

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Blue State Redistribution – Wall Street Journal

The Census Bureau and IRS last week also released state population growth and income migration data for 2018 that show the exodus from high-tax to low-tax states is accelerating. Four states have lost population since 2010 including West Virginia (-3.3%), Illinois (-1.2%), Vermont (-0.3%) and Connecticut (-0.2%), but 10 experienced declines last year. New York was the biggest loser as a net 180,000 people left for better climes. Over the last decade New York has lost more of its population to other states (7.2%) than any other save Alaska (8%), followed by Illinois (6.8%), Connecticut (5.6%) and New Jersey (5.5%). Hmmm, what do these states have in common? Large tax burdens and politically powerful public unions. Illinois’s property tax rates are the second highest in the country after New Jersey. The state lost $5.6 billion in adjusted gross income last year to other states, about twice as much as in 2012. Notably, income outflow hasn’t increased from Michigan or Wisconsin.

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Dear Indiana and Florida: Our population loss, your gain – Chicago Tribune

"[T]he outflow of Illinois residents just keeps climbing. And they’re taking wealth with them: Financial website Wirepoints reports that the average adjusted gross income of those who left in 2018 was about $85,000. Those who moved to Illinois had incomes of around $66,000. Collectively, that’s a lot of lost spending power."

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Five Charts That Show Who’s Leaving Illinois And Why – WBEZ

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Illinois distribution firm moving to Kenosha – Kenosha News

Trifinity Specialized Distribution, a Waukegan, Ill.-based company that serves major box stores and drug retailers, is relocating to Kenosha, bringing 61 jobs with plans to expand capacity. The company founder noted that the move is a money saver in several ways, saying taxes in Illinois, Lake County and the local community made it difficult to remain there. He also said the tax structure is lower in Wisconsin than in Illinois and noted that the Illinois fuel tax is going up by 35 percent.

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Illinois pot shops can’t keep up with demand after state legalizes recreational use – Fox News

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‘A good spot to rob’: Chicago cannabis shop targeted by burglars days into Illinois legalization – Fox61

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New IRS Data Reveals Winners & Losers Of Wealth Migration Across 50 States – ZeroHedge

A national republication of our Wirepoints article.

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Risk of Multi-employer pension meltdown grows as Congress fails to act – MSN

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The ‘Illinois Exodus’ – You can pay me now, or pay me later – Truth in Accounting

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Jim Dey: What population woes? Governor has his own spin – News-Gazette

"Politicians like Pritzker occupy special places on the planet where the things they either say or don’t say are explained away by their public-relations representatives."

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With voters set to decide on progressive income tax, Illinois wealth flight among worst in the nation – IL Policy

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Raoul wants accelerated Ameren, ComEd ratepayer refund – Capitol News IL

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Concern Growing That Short Supply Of Pot Could Be Long-Term Dispensary Problem – CBS Chicago

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Hackers-for-hire in Iran have already fired first shots in Illinois, Indiana – ABC Chicago

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Gov Pritzker high on first week’s nearly $11 M in cannabis sales – IL Review

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Wirepoints: Illinois loses nearly $13 billion in revenue last two years as over 200,000 taxpayers exit – IL Review

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Wisconsin becoming a new relocation target for Illinois residents – Kenosha News

They point to better jobs, lower taxes, lower-priced homes, access to better schools for their children, recreation and a better overall lifestyle, according to reports by the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and other state and local organizations. And that’s been by design: State and local economic development organizations have launched marketing campaigns in recent years designed to attract workers to Wisconsin.

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Report: 123 children died in 2019 despite contact with DCFS – A.P.

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Strapped cities looking to sell sewer systems – Sentinel

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Illinois saw nation’s worst population loss during the decade – IL Policy

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Pritzker Administration Provides New Path to State Financial Aid for Undocumented and Transgender Students – Press Release

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The Public Pension Funding Crisis And The First Law Of Holes – Forbes

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A Small Chicago Firm Has Quietly Funded Nearly Two Dozen Anti-Union Lawsuits – The Intercept

The firm, Juris Capital, is in the business of bankrolling litigation upfront, making bets that it will enjoy an ample cut of a plaintiff’s proceeds.

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Central Illinois leaders respond to population decline in the State – CIProud

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Retired Southern Illinois coal miners and widows celebrate federal deal to save their pensions – The Southern

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Illinois Spent the Last Decade Losing Population and Learning Nothing – Reason

"Our most troubled state" spent much of 2010 serving as a warning that states cannot tax themselves into prosperity and cannot thrive by using so much of their budget to line the pockets of government employees. Will this be the decade that the state learns its own lessons?

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Illinois says you should know if AI is grading your online job interviews – Vox

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123 children died within a year of DCFS involvement, study finds – WGN

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Illinois health departments warn of marijuana risks – MSL

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Raising sons who became daughters is a shared story for Kim Lightford, Heather Steans –

Lightford, the first African American woman to serve as Senate Majority Leader, represents the 4th District, based in the western suburbs. She’s a leading candidate to become Illinois’ next Senate President. Steans, from the 7th District on Chicago’s North Side, was a force behind passing the landmark legislation that legalized cannabis in Illinois.

Yet, what bonds them, intimately and fiercely, are their sons. Once sons, now daughters. Both women have transgender children who are transitioning to female.

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Editorial: Governor, lawmakers, it’s time to put up, not shut up, on ‘Fair Maps’ – Daily Herald

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Mish: Illinoisans Leave State In Record Numbers… And So Are We – ZeroHedge

Based on our Wirepoints report.

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John Kass: Gov. J.B. Pritzker knows what angry taxpayers need: Legal weed – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois population drop persists – 1IL

Comment: Naturally, 1IL's article features a picture of Rauner at the top, blames him and concludes with this gem: "Pritzker is hoping to stem that tide with an overhaul of the state’s funding and taxation system — which will go before voters in November — and the legalization of marijuana that took effect New Year’s Day can’t hurt either when it comes to luring new residents to Illinois."

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Illinois reminds small businesses, nonprofits of tax credit for minimum wage increase – WEEK

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Yet another study — this one from moving companies — shows Illinois 2d most ‘moved from’ state – WIFR

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Public Pension Funding Crisis: Why Should Today’s Workers And Retirees Pay The Price? – Forbes

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Partisan bickering threatens to derail property tax relief plan – Crain’s

Comment: See our own article linked here criticizing the draft report now available.

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Father Time – Eric Allie Cartoon

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Indiana is building far more single-family homes than Illinois – IL Policy

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Illinoisans pay more in cell phone taxes than residents anywhere else in U.S. – Center Square

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States are already paying for unfunded pensions – Chicago Booth Review

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Illinois’ rural areas likely to lose representation in Congress due to population losses – Center Square

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After Successful Debut, Pritzker Has Work on Taxes, Ethics – A.P.

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Editorial: When taxpayers trust Springfield … Part 7: Warren Buffett and others warned about pensions. Illinois pols made things worse — and now demand more tax dollars. – Chicago Tribune

You might think this century of failure would humble today’s Illinois politicians. Wrong. The current crop of Democrats who run Springfield want voters in November to approve switching the state from a flat income tax to a progressive tax. Their scheme at first would hit only the top 3% of income tax filers.

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Illinois bans animal-tested cosmetic products – The Hill

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Legal Climate Rankings by State – US Chamber of Commerce Inst. for Legal Reform

This report is from September, but we missed it then, and it's brutal on IL.

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High demand for marijuana shuts down Rockford dispensary for 3rd day in a row – WIFR

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Illinois schools to start teaching LGBTQ history in 2020 – WIFR

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Editorial: No, we won’t shut up about the Illinois Exodus. Latest downside: Chicago’s top real estate investors are shopping elsewhere – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Hey, sounds like Wirepoints: "Exodus is a repetitive theme on this Editorial page, we know. Connecting the dots between high taxes, unsustainable pension costs and slow economic growth is a practice many elected officials in Chicago and Illinois would rather we shut up about."

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The Winnebago County elected job no one wants – Rockford Register

Precinct committeeman was once a job that aspiring politicians used to get a foot in the door of their party. These days, the elected position draws little interest. That’s understandable given the lack of pay and prestige and the generally minimal responsibilities. There are times, though, when the precinct committeeman plays a critical role. If a state representative dies in office or resigns, committeemen select a replacement.

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Mismanagement of funds nothing new in Illinois – MyWebTimes

"With tongue planted firmly in cheek, I would like to announce my selection for 2019’s “Most Unintentionally Comic Article of the Year.” It’s a genuine knee-slapper. I hope you think so, too. Capitol News Illinois recently produced an article headlined, “State funding for schools would lower property taxes.” Just let that headline sink in. In the great tradition of other over-educated lightweights, Frank Manzo (policy director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute) and Robert Bruno (equally impressive as director of the Project for Middle Class Renewal, where do they get these names?) authored a commissioned report (a sure sign of redundancy) that found property taxes would be reduced if the state of Illinois agreed to pay a much larger share of education costs in Illinois communities."

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Illinois’ Vehicle Manufacturing Future to be Shaped in Three Cities – Transport Topics

From electric trucks and startups to international megamergers, the state of the fast-evolving auto industry in Illinois comes down to a tale of three cities: Normal, Belvidere and Chicago.... But a future that includes everything from electric and self-driving vehicles to assembly lines increasingly staffed by robots could portend more challenges for Illinois auto plants — and their workers — down the road.

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As trade deals come together, business advocate warns Illinois policies could hinder growth – Center Square

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Illinois marijuana sales top $5.4M in first 2 days of legalization – ABC Chicago

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Eric Zorn: 3 easy ways to preserve your serenity during the toxic political year ahead – Chicago Tribune

Comment: Credit Zorn with being honest about how most of the modern left works. His advice is "Ignore. Delete. Block."

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Illinois Senate President John Cullerton talks about Blagojevich, bipartisanship and changes brought by social media as his time in Springfield comes to an end – Chicago Tribune

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Blagojevich: House Democrats Would’ve Impeached Lincoln, Too – WTTW

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Degradation, Neglect And Roaches: Inside Illinois’ Largest Women’s Prison – WBEZ

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Want to get around Illinois new vehicle trade-in tax in 2020? Buy a pickup – Center Square

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Illinois rakes in nearly $3.2M on first day of legal weed sales – Fox Chicago

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How to survive the coming retirement crisis – Quartz

"Here’s the scariest thing: even in the best-designed systems, almost no one today will earn enough money in their lifetime to not work for 20 or 30 years at the end of their life. This is true no matter who pays for retirement—the individual, their employer, or the government."

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Cannabis now legal in Illinois but law enforcement questions still remain – Center Square

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Jim Dey | ‘Pay for play’ really was policy at Governors State – News-Gazette

While the state of Illinois was too strapped to pay its bills, a Chicago-area university spent more than $1.5 million to continue to pay the salaries of 33 terminated employees who did little or no work.

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Shared Sentence: Illinois Moves To Help Kids Of The Incarcerated – NPR IL

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Do Public Pension Shortfalls Mean You’ll Face a Tax Hike? – Independent Inst.

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Pritzker Clears Thousands of Marijuana Convictions – WTTW

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Illinois lieutenant governor beats long lines to become one of the first to legally buy weed in the state – CNN

See our own story on this linked here.  

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New law expected to increase the number of poker runs, raffles in Illinois – Center Square

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This potential deal doesn’t bode well for Wisconsin’s Foxconn plans – Crain’s

The state increasingly looks like it's being squeezed out by Foxconn adding capacity elsewhere.

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Which Illinois schools receive the most federal student aid? – IL Business Daily

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Growing trend to restrict non-competes may particularly impact fast-food franchises, attorney says – Cook County Record

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Big list of new laws for 2020 – IL Senate Democrats

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Three Retirement Predictions For 2020 – Plus A Bonus Wishlist – Forbes

[W]ith respect to state and local public pension plans in the most-indebted states, that is, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and the most-indebted cities, such as Chicago, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that . . . precisely nothing will happen. Oh, sure, folks like Gov. JB Pritzker in Illinois will take some actions that they will claim have solved the problem, or at least take credit on what they’ll call a down payment on a solution.... Whatever it is, it’ll be a farce rather than a true solution.

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New Census Bureau Estimates: Illinois Lost Population Again — Worse Loss Rate Than Any State Except West Virginia

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Appeals panel won’t strike down state campaign finance law; Lawsuit said creates ‘unlevel playing field’ – Cook County Record

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Editorial: New census numbers show another Illinois Exodus. Will a 6th year of population loss jolt voters? – Chicago Tribune

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What Republicans And Democrats Are Doing In The States Where They Have Total Power – FiveThirtyEight

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Legal Marijuana Sales May Spark Midwest Interstate Tension – WTTW

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Prisoners In Illinois Will No Longer Have To Pay To See A Doctor – WBEZ

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Illinois loses population for a 6th straight year — and lost more residents than any state this decade – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois’ population loss more than 51,000 in 2019, most lost in past decade – Center Square

llinois lost nearly 105,000 people in net domestic migration from 2018 to 2019, according to new numbers from the U.S. Census Monday. In total, the Land of Lincoln lost on net 51,250 people, the largest annual population decline this decade. Its the sixth consecutive year Illinois' population declined.

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From Blago to ‘Fast Eddie’ to Ed Burke, a decade in political corruption – Chicago Sun-TImes

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Illinois Employers Have Long To-Do List for New Worker Procedures, Rules – Bloomberg

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Small business owners prepare for minimum wage hikes in Illinois – Center Square

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New Illinois law will change how much credit people receive for used vehicles – WEHT

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‘Aloha’ Increasingly Means Goodbye Thanks to High Taxes – Wall Street Journal

“Why would anyone leave Hawaii?” Former Hawaii residents hear the question a lot, often from someone eager to relay the details of an incredible vacation in Maui or Kauai. But when you’re living paycheck to paycheck and working two jobs, you don’t get many chances to enjoy the island archipelago’s crystal blue waters and soft white sand. People leave Hawaii for the same reasons they leave Illinois and California: high costs and lack of opportunity.

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There’s already a marijuana shortage in Illinois just as it’s about to become legal – Belleville News-Dem

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Rahm Emanuel Op-Ed: Don’t sink to Trump’s level; we are more than the sum of our disagreements

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Illinois legal weed poses challenge for companies with zero tolerance policies – ABC Chicago

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New state law requires companies to train employees on how to recognize, prevent sexual harassment – Chicago Tribune

See our own story on this new mandate linked here.

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Wealth manager says Illinoisans should evaluate real estate investments heading into new year – Center Square

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Illinois prisons must support transgender inmates, court rules – The Hill

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Traffic Jam on the Illinois Waterway: Tugboats Are Busy Through the Holidays – Wall Street Journal

Tugboat companies have spent months getting stranded barges where they needed to go or sending empty barges to pick up waiting loads. One week earlier this month saw the highest grain tonnage of the year moving through a key Mississippi River lock. Volumes have been scaling back since. “This was an epic year on so many fronts,” including trade wars over grains and steel that held down volumes, hurting the shipping companies’ bottom lines, said Ken Eriksen, a transportation and infrastructure expert and senior vice president at IHS Markit. “It just never got to what one would consider normal routine operations.”

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States are already paying for unfunded pensions – Chicago Booth Review

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Nearly all Illinois metro areas see lower unemployment – WGN

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Letter: Pensions should be illegal

A concise statement about the fundamental flaws in defined benefit plans.

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Pritzker Talks About First Year In Office, Plans For Graduated Income Tax And Pension Reform – CBS Chicago

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The only way out of our (multi-employer, private sector) pension crisis is through bipartisan compromise – Editorial – Washington Post

Today, 125 of the 1,400 plans are expected to be insolvent within the next two decades, including the Teamsters’ Central States Pension Fund, due to collapse by 2025. Yet the PBGC has assets of just $2.9 billion to cover insured liabilities of $68 billion, as of Sept. 30.

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A new year means new ways for Illinois lawmakers to dip into your wallet – Chicago Tribune

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s use of millions from his personal fortune for public expenses raises concerns about conflicts, transparency – Chicago Tribune

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Illinois party leaders, political observers assess past year, look ahead to 2020 – Capitol IL News

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Illinois Pension Plans Dumps $1 Billion in Value Stocks to Self Manage – Moneymaven

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Here Are The 50 US Housing Markets Already Turning Ugly – ZeroHedge

Lots of Illinois communities and Peoria is worst.